March 14, 2014 — race report by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — V8 Supercars photo — MELBOURNE, VICTORIA, AUSTRALIA — Hello Team TEKNO.
Or even more accurately, hello SvG.
Shane van Gisbergen sailed to victory lane and the top step of the podium in Friday’s opening race of the V8 Supercars non-points Rolex/MSS Security V8 Supercars Challenge at Albert Park, streaking out in front of a dicey ten-car pack in the 10 lap, half-hour affair.
The Kiwi ducked to the inside of polesitter Michael Caruso’s Nissan Altima in the opening corner after the rolling, double-file start and never looked back from there, grabbing the checkered flag by 6.1 seconds over five-time champion Jamie Whincup.
Whincup, who started fourth, was up to second by the end of the first lap, but had to fend off a furious charge from Volvo Polestar Racing’s Scott McLaughlin in a re-ignition of their electric battle from Adelaide 2.
Whincup’s Holden Commodore and McLaughlin’s Volvo arguing over second for the majority of the 10-lap race played right into the hands of SvG, as he widened the lead margin and took his second career victory at the Albert Park circuit.
“That first race I really struggled at the start and Jamie was all over me, we didn’t have any grip. But once the tires came up we were on top of it,” Van Gisbergen said in victory lane. “After we got going and they (Whincup and McLaughlin) started going at it, we just left them.”
During the feud for second, Whincup received a bad sportsmanship flag and a five-place grid penalty for Race 2 after squeezing McLaughlin onto the grass on the inside of the main straightaway.
Behind van Gisbergen, Whincup and McLaughlin, polesitter Caruso came home in fourth and defending overall Albert Park winner Fabian Coulthard completed the top five. Garth Tander, Craig Lowndes, James Moffat, Chaz Mostert and Todd Kelly rounded out the rest of the top ten.
Clipsal 500 winner James Courtney had a rough race in his Holden Racing Team Commodore, coming home in the 15th position.
The only incident of the race occured on Lap 4, when David Reynolds looped his car around in Turn 3. Reynold rejoined the race and the incident did not draw a caution flag, however Reynolds limped home in the 25th and final finishing position.
In addition, Will Davison was placed under investigation for jumping the initial start in his Erebus Motorsport Mercedes.
Race 2, which will be contested over 12 laps, gets the green flag at 2:25 PM local time.